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Morphy’s Mate

Morphy’s Mate is a checkmate pattern that features a bishop and rook. It’s named after the legendary American chess player, Paul Morphy.

Morphy’s Mate Example 1

Morphy's Mate Example 1

Diagram above: This is a theoretical position that illustrates the concept of Morphy’s Mate. The black king is trapped in the corner behind its own pawn. The king is also cut off by the white rook. White’s bishop delivers the checkmate.

Morphy’s Mate Example 2

Here’s and example of the Morphy Mate executed in an actual game:

Morphy's Mate Example 2

Diagram above: White played 1.Rg3+ (a discovered check by the bishop on a1) and there is nothing black can do to prevent checkmate. 1… Qe5 2.Bxe5+ Rf6 3.Bxf6# The game is from Reshevsky – Shainswit, New York 1951.

Important Notes on Morphy’s Mate

From this discussion on a forum, you will notice that there is a fair amount of confusion about Morphy’s Mate. There are mainly 2 reasons for this confusion:

  1. The checkmate never actually happened in the game it was named after and
  2. Paul Morphy was better known for other checkmate patterns, such as the Opera Mate (which coincidentally is also a rook and bishop checkmate pattern).

Morphy’s Mate is a checkmate pattern inspired by a game in which it did not occur. You can read the details of it in this post by James Stripes.